Lemony Chicken Broth with Orzo Pasta and Chard
Orzo is a little rice-shaped pasta that is great in soups and stews. If you can’t find it, any little pasta shape – the smaller the better – would work here: try conchigliette (tiny shells), stelle (little stars) or risoni (like orzo but smaller). Chard lends a rich greenness to the soup – look for slender stemmed Swiss chard or ruby chard. If the stems are quite robust, slice them and add to the soup a little earlier than the sliced leaves – about halfway through the pasta cooking time. Your soup will have more bulk but will be delicious for it. Small baby chard leaves can just be tossed into the soup whole. If you can’t find chard, spinach will lend a similar iron-rich flavour.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 500ml each chicken stock and water
- 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- thinly pared zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 200g orzo pasta
- 300g chard (see introduction), sliced
- salt and black pepper
Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onion for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, then pour in the chicken stock and water.
Add the chicken thighs, thyme and strips of lemon zest with some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10–12 minutes until the chicken is just cooked. Remove the chicken thighs with a slotted spoon and set them aside.
Add the orzo pasta to the pan and cook for 6–8 minutes until almost tender. Cut the chicken into chunks and return to the pan with the chard. Cook for a few more minutes until the chard is wilted and tender. Remove from the heat and add the juice of the lemon. Serve immediately.